October 13, 2004

The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells and Their Promise for Medicine

Guest: Ann B. Parson.

Many scientists believe that stem cells could be the pathway to discovering regenerative cures to a wide range of diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, and heart disease. Today on Focus, we're joined by science journalist Ann Parson to discuss what stem cells are, where they come from, and the ethical issues that may prevent the field from ever really taking off.

September 23, 2004

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

Guest: Neil deGrasse Tyson.

How did the universe begin? It's a question that plagued scientists for centuries, and one that astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explores in his recent book Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution. He joins us on Focus today to discuss the formation of the universe, as well as its galaxies, planets... and inhabitants.

September 08, 2004

Recovered Memory

Guest: Elizabeth Loftus.

Recent studies have shown that it's possible to make people believe they have had experiences they didn't have. They can also be led to believe that these experiences were extremely traumatic—or they would have been, if they had happened. Today on Focus, we're joined by well-known memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus from the University of California at Irvine. We'll talk about her work and review some of the controversy over recovered memories.

August 31, 2004

Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA

Guest: Tim Junkin.

In 1984, Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl. Determined to escape the ruling, he found a lawyer willing to fight for a new technique to be used for evidence that would prove Bloodsworth innocent. After nine years in one of the country's toughest prisons, he became the first death row inmate in America to be exonerated by DNA. Our guest today on Focus, novelist Tim Junkin, tells the full story in his book Bloodsworth.

August 26, 2004

Dark Light: Electricity and Anxiety from the Telegraph to the X-ray

Guest: Linda Simon.

More than thirty years after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, barely ten percent of American homes were wired for electricity. At the same time, electrotherapy emerged as a popular medical treatment for everything from depression to digestive problems. Why did Americans welcome electricity into their bodies, but not their homes? Today on Focus, Linda Simon joins us to talk about her new book Dark Light and its use of journalism and fiction to explore public anxiety and awe over electricity.

August 25, 2004

Bad for Us: The Lure of Self-Harm

Guest: John Portman.

Why do so many people do things that are clearly against their best interests? John Portman, author of Bad for Us, says that both self-control and losing control can be acts of self-definition. He says that in doing something that society regards as bad for us, we are testing the limits of who we are. Today on Focus, Portman joins us to discuss how and why people can be their own worst enemies.

August 17, 2004

The Hubble Telescope and the Space Telescope Program

Guests: Mario Livo and John Bahcall.

Over the past fourteen years, the Hubble Space Telescope has added greatly to our knowledge of the universe, yet its future is in doubt. Unless a repair mission can be organized, Hubble will come to the end of its useful life in the next few years. Today on Focus, we're joined by Mario Livo and John Bahcall to talk about the efforts to keep Hubble going, as well as plans for the next-generation space telescope.

August 16, 2004

The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change

Guest: Charles Wohlforth.

Climate change is not merely a theory in the far North. It has already dramatically changed the daily lives of the native people living off the land and sea in the Arctic. Today on Focus, we're joined by journalist and author Charles Wohlforth to discuss how these high-latitude regions struggle to support its inhabitants, from natives relying on traditional knowledge to survive to scientists keen on decoding the patterns of climate change.

August 06, 2004

Severe Weather

Guests: Donna Charlevoix and Glen Romine.

It's estimated that 100,000 thunderstorms occur every year in the United States. They affect relatively small areas compared to winter storms and hurricanes, but can be dangerous, capable of producing tornadoes, lightning and hail. This morning on Focus, Donna Charlevoix and Glen Romine will join us from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois. We'll talk about how storms form and how forecasters work to predict their movements.

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